Wir sind voller Trauer, dass unsere geschätzte und geliebte Lehrerin, Beraterin, Älteste und Freundin Sobonfu Somé am 14. Januar nach langer Krankheit in Burkina Faso aus dem Leben geschieden ist.
Wir danken ihr für die Jahre in denen sie uns durch ihre Workshops und beim Weiterentwickeln unserer Arbeit begleitet hat. Sobonfu hat vor allem durch ihre Bücher weltweit zig Tausende von Menschen mit ihren Geschichten, den Weisheiten ihrer Kultur und den intensiven Ritualen berührt, inspiriert und mit Zuversicht erfüllt. Sie wurde als die wohl wichtigste weibliche Stimme afrikanischer Spiritualität in der westlichen Welt anerkannt.
Sobonfu, deren Name “Hüterin der Rituale” bedeutete, schaffte es, die Prinzipien der Rituale ihrer Kultur, der Dagara in West-Afrika, in Ausdrucksformen zu übersetzen, die den Menschen und der Kultur hier vor Ort entsprachen.
Von 2014-16 leitete sie eine erstmals in Europa durchgeführte Ausbildung in naturverbundener Ritualarbeit für Circlewise und die Wildnisschule Wildeshausen. Sobonfu konnte dadurch zuletzt einen Teil ihres Wissens und auch ihrer Verantwortung an eine Gruppe von Lernenden hier in Deutschland weiter geben, die im Rahmen der Ausbildung auch eine Initiation in diese Form der Ritualarbeit absolvierten.
Zum Abschluss der Ausbildung Ende November 2016 teilte sie mit uns folgende Worte:
„Vielleicht seid ihr euch nicht sicher, ob ihr nach nur diesen drei Jahren in der Lage sein werdet, da draußen Rituale zu leiten. Aber ich kann euch sagen, was auch immer der Geist ist, mit dem ihr euch verbunden habt – ihr seid auf einer heißen Spur. Seid ihr bereit, weiter auf ihn zu achten? Ihn euch führen zu lassen? (…) Ein neuer Tag ist möglich. Eine neue Art des Seins ist möglich. Eine neue Art, zusammenzukommen ist möglich. Eine neue Art Wunder auf den Weg zu bringen ist möglich. Was auch immer der Geist ist, der diese Möglichkeiten für euch hier geschenkt hat – ich werde ihm für immer dankbar sein.“
Zu diesem Zeitpunkt wissen wir noch nicht, wie wir mit allem, was wir von Sobonfu gelernt haben, auf eine gute Weise weitergehen und es auch weitergeben wollen. Die nächsten Wochen und Monate werden mehr Klarheit hierzu schenken und einen neuen Weg eröffnen.
Wir vermissen dich Sobonfu – deine Weisheit, deinen Humor, deine Entschlossenheit, deine tiefe und tätige Liebe zu den Menschen, besonders den Kindern, deine Ausdauer und die Kraft deiner Verbindung zur geistigen Welt. Du hast für uns einen Anker gesetzt – in ein gesundes, gemeinschaftliches Miteinander aller Generationen, das auch hier und heute möglich ist. Du hast uns Türen zur Verbindung mit der geistigen Welt eröffnet, zu der wir alle als Menschen einen ganz individuellen, persönlichen Zugang haben, und die uns durch deine Arbeit vertrauter geworden ist, als eine Quelle für Kraft und Weisheit in einer Zeit wo dies so dringend gebraucht scheint.
Hab Dank für alles – ye barka, ye barka, ye barka.
Ausbildungsgruppe in Naturverbundener Ritualarbeit 2014-2016
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Hier geht’s zum Nachruf in der Zeitschrift Oya 44/2017, geschrieben von Geseko v. Lüpke und Elke Loepthien.
Persönlicher Nachruf von Elke:
My dearest Sobonfu,
Thank you for being my teacher, auntie, mother, sister and friend all at the same time. In your leaving, I see how my life has changed in countless ways because of you.
Your way of seeing and connecting with the children helped me to become a real mother for my son, as well as for my own inner child, and for the children around us. Always you were so full of love, so generous with them. Through your eyes and translation you helped us to read their ways of communicating and to truly respond. Your deep appreciation and love for the children helped me to put them back into the center, giving me a taste of what our responsibilities as adults truly are towards the children around us, and to all the children, even to the children within, so the wounds of the past could find healing. My son is thankful for you, for the many ways you treated him with so much loving care, and because he knows how much better a mother I am because of you.
I loved to witness how you touched hundreds of people in our community. How your presence and care opened up hearts and whenever you hadn’t been here for a while, I so longed for you to come soon, so the emergence of life force could speed up again, cause I could count on that to happen once you were just here with us. I saw so many life changing conversations that really only took a few minutes of your full attention to happen, and the concentric rings of these conversations within the community.
I feel eternally grateful for all the different rituals that you have shared with us, with so much patience. You were such a skilled teacher for us, always making sure to throw in bits and pieces that we had not heard yet, to widen our experience, to deepen our understanding, to put us on the edge, so we had to grow.
I remember how you brushed off my attempt to write down a complicated smudging routine for the grief ritual, telling me I would just be fooling myself, that I need to embody it or I could forget it, rolling your eyes with a big smile.
I will never forget the magic and power of your blessings. Right when we started our 3year training you blessed each person to welcome them into their element. And even though many of them you had never seen before, you spoke right to their gift, right to that most elusive, special thing about them. I went along, holding the jar with ashes for you, and almost everyone got teary eyed immediately, such was the gentle power of your words.
And how you were empowering women as well as men in our community! You could encourage and then kick butt if needed, for us to step into our responsibility for each other, to acknowledge and honor our differences, laugh together, and to be there for the children and for the world.
The vastness of your spirit that needed to travel all over this world, like a special kind of food, and that was able to nourish all these authentic and deep connections to so many people. The many nights you spent here with hardly any sleep at all, instead skyping with friends and family from all over, consoling, connecting, caring.
The sharpness of your ability to see through anyone’s fog and storm into the core of issues, into the disappointment underneath even the harmful actions, into the longing underneath even the hatred, and your ability to connect with that core within an instant, to make people feel seen and heard and welcome. Even with people who were treating you outrightly badly, you could see behind their actions and I never heard you say a harmful or discrediting word towards even the most difficult relationships in your life.
You helped me to make the fullest sense of my own gifts, as well as the ones of everyone else in the community. You showed me and taught me how to not shrink back from power, not from my own, nor any other. You made me accountable to hold my ground as a facilitator and leader and to ground myself and connect to spirit in a split second if need be. You guided me so well Sobonfu. You could console me, hold me, love me completely and in other moments just smack me, right when it was needed, and helpful, and then we’ld laugh about it afterwards.
You role modeled to all of us, how to walk with the intense power that we all felt working on us during the rituals, and to never misuse it for your own purposes.
I don’t remember you ever buying anything for yourself. Judith and I (and I know people all over) tried to keep your gear from the continuous danger of falling apart completely, by renewing one thing after the other. All the abundance that your work created you spent for the children, so selflessly.
I remember the complete delight you took in good food, as well as in heartfelt music and how you never took any bit of the care for granted that people around you offered.
When I had invited you over in the beginning, not really knowing you, we spent a few days tiptoeing around your room, trying to be really quiet. How quickly our places here then got transformed into “Little Burkina”, lively, hot and noise as can be, 25 people in one double bed room for our team meetings, where you were our guest of honor.
I remember our timeless days in between the programs, were we wouldn’t even leave the house and have breakfast at 4 in the afternoon. How hard we sometimes laughed. How we were all cuddled up on the couch, and we would massage the whole world inside and around us with layers upon layers of gently flowing conversations, taking turns with eruptions of hysterical laughter and wildness of spirit and mind, with you, Judith and I and elder Julie.
The hours of the two of us singing your favorite songs together, songs of friendship, care and love.
There was no human condition that you didn’t know or that you wouldn’t accept.
You always patiently listened to even my bullshit, kindly and with humor acknowledged it as bullshit and then readily listened to more of it. Whenever you set me straight, you gave me so much reassurance with it, calming my insecurities, so I could swallow even the bitter medicine. You made me stand up for my own dignity when I felt like nothing more than a pile of dust on the ground, and in your arms I could sob like a baby, because you just knew me so well.
I remember that lean and incredibly strong body of yours, trained by the years of carrying the increasing weight of your sickness, and carrying it with so much grace. In my prayers I saw you dancing wildly, freed from all burdens.
Oh how hard I prayed for your health and happiness, and how scared I felt at times about your sickness. Never have I seen someone who had to persevere so much pain and hardship, over years and years, and yet stayed so lighthearted and full of love and full of mischief at the same time. I remember the long mornings of preparing yourself to get up, gathering your strength, getting ready for another day. The patience and strength you were able to muster for even just one walk over to the bathroom. I remember how we got our first wheelchair here for you and you just wouldn’t stop walking on your own. How much humor you always found to answer the inquisitive questions of the airport personnel. How earnestly you talked to the concerned children, trying to explain the unexplainable. How you finally did surrender to the wheelchair, and to the couch in the seminar room that we hauled in on a trailer, to all the big and small little helpers that enabled you continue your work despite the pain. I remember how angry I got when someone would try to pull more time and energy from you than what you were already offering, and the quietness that hung over your room when you were exhausted. How you would share your fears and worries with us and how hard you were working for your own healing, in all the different and sometimes mysterious ways you and your elders found.
In the seven years that I’ve known you, I never saw you healthy Sobonfu. But once I saw you dancing, for just a few moments, and that image will always stay with me.
I remember our last blessing circle for you, before the village training ended. I see the tears rolling down your cheeks and the love in your eyes, for each one of us. And our blessings for the healing to come, for joy, for salvation, for that you may experience the sweetness of being completely whole and healthy again.
I so wished there would have been another way out of your sickness than leaving to the other side of the veil. But I do feel happy, that your suffering has come to an end.
I remember how you locked eyes with me so intently, like tying a life saving rope, before you sent me into the scary shrine to get something, when you weren’t able to do it yourself anymore last fall. „Stay connected with me“ – you said. I said I will.
And I will.
I love you Sobonfu. My house, my memories, my stories, my songs are all full of you, your advice, your laughter, your bad-assness and your love. And of our shared dreams for the future, that will be so different now.
You taught us that every death of a loved one is a ticket for the living. There are so many of us, who you gifted with tickets and I am marveling at where the journey will take us.
I promise to use mine well and to live my life in a way that will make you smile. I promise to call on you when I need you, to feed you the best of my food and to giggle with you whenever the opportunity arises.
Just like you said on your last message on my voicemail in December: “I love you and we’ll be in touch.”